Despite the title of this page, this mainly documents visiting to the Helsinki region.
- English is pretty much universal. Try greeting people with "Hello" and they'll know to use English.
- ATMs: All ATMs are branded "Otto." and work with all banks. You can withdraw Euros in 20€ and 50€ notes. They are not rare but not everywhere.
- Bank cards here have a "chip" in side of them, and are used by insertion into a slot instead of a magnetic swipe. If you have a magnetic swipe card, it can still be used everywhere, but the server will be slightly surprised by it. You'll mag swipe it and then sign a receipt.
- Money exchanges are common, and can be found (at least) at the airport, central train station, and Kamppi. Using an ATM is probably a better system.
- You'll want to get a transit card soon. They are available from the ubiquitous convenience stores "R-Kioski" (yellow and blue awning), or city information in the airport.
- Talk to your host to establish what type of card you need. You should know: a) how many days, and b) how many regions ("Helsinki", or "Region").
- Most retail businesses are open until 21 weekdays, 18 weekends, but varies. Restaurants, grocery stores and other type things tend to be open later.
- All places have both Finnish and Swedish names, and they can look quite different.
- The most important public information is also in English. Most other public information can be found in both Finnish and Swedish. The Finnish is quite hard to understand, but sometimes looking at the Swedish you can get an idea about what it is trying to say. (Most people know enough English to help you).
- Airport transportation.
- There is a Finnair City Bus which costs about 6€/person and takes you to the central railway station.
- The public transit buses take you to central railway station by a different route for 5€. They are numbered 615 and 620 and run pretty much continuously.
- Shuttle bus to the train station by the airpot, and train to the central railway station (price is the same as bus).
- Internet access: free Wi-Fi is available in many public places (Helsinki airport, Kamppi centre, train station, etc.) and many restaurants and cafés.
- Cell phone services use GSM 900/1800, W-CDMA 2100. A SIM card is as cheap as 6€, and generally very affordable.
- Typical prices: food is quite expensive compared to average European cities (but less expensive than in Scandinavia). Cheap food (less than 6-7 EUR) is not so easy (impossible?) to find. Lunch : ~ 10-15 EUR, Dinner (normal restaurant, not fancy) ~ 15-20 EUR).
Things to check before leaving
- Unlock your phone
- Ensure your credit/debit cards will work internationally, and figure out which ones don't have an international transaction fee.
- Day cards for n days (buy in stores): Helsinki: 4*(n+1), Region: 6*(n+1)
- Single ride: Helsinki: 2.80 (1.90), Region: 4.50 (3.47)
- Two hour ticket: Helsinki: 3.80, Region: 6.40 (not from drivers)
- Tram ticket: